The Gardens Gate – March 2021

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The March 2021 Gardens Gate Port St. Lucie Botanical Gardens

The Gardens Through The Eyes Of Stephanie Siefker


Gardens News & Updates


Garden Center, Pavilion & Gift Shop Hours: Thursday, Friday & Saturday 10am - 4pm Sunday 12pm - 4pm

Board Member and Volunteer Spotlights


Botanica 2021 In Pictures


2410 SE Westmoreland Boulevard Port St. Lucie, FL 34952 Phone: 772.337.1959 • Fax: 772.237.5952 Core Volunteers: 772.302.4393 E-mail: Web:

Garden Center, Pavilion & Gift Shop Hours: Thursday - Saturday 10:00am - 4:00pm Sunday 12:00pm - 4:00pm Gardens Hours: 8:00am- 5:30pm 7-days a week PETS ARE NOT PERMITTED IN THE GARDENS Suggested Donations: Adults $5 • Students $2 Children 12 & Under Welcome Free for FPSLBG Members and Active Military with family (IDs required)

Mission Statement... Friends’ mission is to create and maintain a beautiful, serene sanctuary in the center of Port St. Lucie that is environmentally sound and naturally diverse and to provide educational, cultural and recreational opportunities for all who visit.

Officers & Directors... President: Vice President: Secretary: Treasurer: Directors:

Jeff Chambers Heather Furnari Mary Petrone Brenda Gustafson Mark A. Barnes Beverly Davis-Bailey John Erickson Laura Mehr Judy Nash-Wade Arthur Pearlstein Tim Sutton

Standing Committee Chairs... Election Committee:

Stephanie Alessandrini-Giarraffa Brenda Gustafson Laura Mehr Brenda Gustafson

Finance Committee: Gift Shop Committee: Horticulture Committee: Membership & Volunteer Committee: Mark A. Barnes Resource Development Committee: Heather Furnari Strategic Planning Committee: Arthur Pearlstein

Newsletter... Editor & Design:

Mark A. Barnes

The Gardens is managed and operated by Friends of the Port St. Lucie Botanical Gardens, Inc., a non-profit 501(c)(3) public charity organization, that was founded to help support the daily operations of The Gardens. Friends volunteers provide hands-on daily oversight of the facility, including staffing to handle the many visitors year round. Please consider becoming a member of Friends. Friends' is a 100% volunteer organization. In all cases, donations are deductible to the extent allowed by law.


Dear Friends, As we enter the new year, I think back to the day I watched our City officials turn the first shovel of dirt. At that time no one could foresee or even imagine the result would be the lush, beautiful garden it is today. The Jewel of the City. Over the past eleven years, with the support of the City and the hard work and dedication of the volunteers we have achieved so much. However, we have a lot of work ahead of us.

With the onset of the COVID virus, decline in the economy and the bitter election that has divided so many, the Gardens has remained a place of peace, solitude and beauty for so many. I am so humbled to be a part of this organization. I value the advice and input I have been given so far and look forward to working with the incredible people that are the heart of and soul of our beautiful garden.

Jeff Chambers,


Friends of the Port St. Lucie Botanical Gardens


What’s Going on at the Port St. Lucie Botanical Gardens in




Continued on Pg8


Two days of rain in the Garden Center didn’t stop our volunteers or our customers. Everyone braved the torrential rains and continued selling, buying plants and getting absolutely soaked. Thank you so much for being such

troopers and #1 Volunteers.


daily DEALS 8

Grab A Bargain Everyday! CLEARANCE-$1, $2, & $3 Plants Open Thurs, Fri, Sat. 10AM-4PM Sunday—10AM-4PM


The Daylily Garden has been moved and is now resting on the banks of the lake overlooking the large Oaks and between the Hibiscus and Bromeliad Garden. Over 50 different daylilies were donated by former Friends President Michelle Peterson each having a unique name. Often called the ‘perfect perennial’ because of its numerous qualities; showy flowers, wide array of vibrant colors, drought tolerance, heat stress immunity, ability to grow in most hardiness zones and low care requirements, Daylilies (Hemerocallis) are a remarkable and stunning addition to our garden. Thanks to the many volunteers who assisted Michelle in the installation of this garden. We know Scooter will be very happy and waiting for the first spectacular blooms. We should start seeing flowers in March. Be sure to stop by.

Help us touch the future, one child, one adult at a time! The Education Committee needs you. We meet every Wednesday in the Gardens Pavilion, 10am beginning March 3rd. We need help finding donors, applying for grants, evaluating activities, (and then having fun trying them out). Moms, Dads, Educators, non-Educators –

all volunteers are welcome!





The Gardens The Gardens need donations of the following items in mint to good condition. • • • • • •

1-Gallon Plastic Pots Clay pots Ceramic Planters Yard Art Copy Paper Plants to Propagate

• • • •

Home Improvements Gift Cards Spray Nozzles TLC Garden Tools Volunteers New Members 13

Why did you choose to volunteer at PSLBG? I had friends that were involved with the gardens and when my garden club, Rio Lindo, moved their meeting to the gardens it was a no-brainer. It was like walking into heaven. The people, the atmosphere, and of course the plants and gardens themselves were and still are food for the soul. What made you want to become a director? I was appointed two times while heading up BOOtanica, our Halloween event. As I served those two times it became apparent that the board was something I could add to and learn from while we all worked together for the future of the gardens. So when my time was up I ran and was elected. My goal for the gardens is to see it flourish and grow as we become more of a destination for the community. Whether that be for a peaceful walk with nature, a class on horticulture, children's education, or celebrating a wedding. And any large community event like the Art show, Botanica, and BOOtanica that is engaging and free from cost to the public. With the Port coming in next door and the Gardens becoming the Port St. Lucie Botanical Gardens at the Port, we are very excited to collaborate our events with the city to enhance people's experiences here. What do you find most rewarding about being on the board? The working knowledge and enthusiasm of our board members, past board members, and all the invaluable volunteers who always give the garden's present and future the top priority it deserves. What do you like to do at the Gardens? I enjoy everything here. From creating that special day for a bride and groom or helping a family celebrate a loved one's life, working events or pulling weeds, to cleaning the facility. All the things that make the visit to the gardens a memorable experience for visitors. I love to see the happy faces of our visitors who are just enjoying their time with us.

Who most influenced your love of gardening? The first thing I grew was a summer squash from 1 4seeds my mother gave me. Although mom's seeds

were usually really old ones, this one worked and I was hooked. What is your favorite tree or plant? I have to say my favorite tree is the Bald Cypress. (Taxodium distichum) The idea that this tree grows "knees" is such a miracle to me. No one really knows for sure why they do this. One theory is that it allows aeration for the tree roots and creates a barrier to catch settlement and reduce erosion or just assist in stabilizing the tree. My favorite plant is the Buddha belly (Jatropha podagrica) It's cool looking and you can decide where you want a branch on it by just picking off the points on it’s belly. Plus hummingbirds and butterflies love them. What do you like to do outside the garden?

Plant seeds and plants with my granddaughters. work in my garden, stroll through nurseries, spend time with my husband. Shop with girlfriends. I have a husband for 38 + years now, three children all grown, that I'm very proud of. One is a builder on the west coast of Florida, one is a photographer and WW ambassador, and my oldest works for Price Waterhouse Cooper. I have three beautiful grandchildren and am blessed with a wonderful daughter and son-in-law. Tell us something that's interesting about you or that people may not know? I was a dialysis technician for a time in NY as well as working in a dental office for 25 plus years as an assistant, a hygenist, and assistant office manager and HR manager. I was a Sunday school teacher and deacon of my church, a boy scout assistant leader, and event coordinator for my community. I think everyone knows I have a passion for Halloween. I don't know how interesting that all is though. What is your favorite quote or saying? I don't really have a favorite quote or saying, but I do have a favorite breath prayer I say each day. But that's between me and the big guy.

absolutely no stress. What’s your favorite tree or plant, and why? I particularly love milkweed, because it’s such a simple plant- you plant the milkweed, and the monarch butterflies come.

Phyllis Brown Why did you choose to volunteer at the PSL Botanical Gardens? I had just finished the Master Gardener program 11 years ago, and was working on the butterfly garden at the extension office, and my friend Richard suggested started to volunteer at the newly formed PSLBG, and he asked me to come and bring together the butterfly garden. Thinking I didn’t know enough, I initially refused, and when I eventually relented, I started the butterfly garden. Do you have any goals for your time here as a volunteer? I wanted to develop an attractive and wild natural butterfly garden that would attract butterflies. What do you find most rewarding about volunteering at PSLBG?

Outside of the Gardens, what do you enjoy doing in your free time? I love spending time with my family, shopping and buying plants with my friends. I have my Daisy, the best dog ever, and going for walks with her. I keep a gardening journal, and am currently in love with tik tok, and playing spider. And reading the comics. Tell us a little bit about your family. I have two wonderful daughters, one is a mosaic artist and optician, who lives in NJ, and one who lives near me, with three children, and is a bartender at an upscale resort. Tell us something about you that’s interesting, or that not many people know.

I owned a plant store in Brookline, MA for many years. Also, I was a theatre major in college. And I am a people, plant and animal person. What’s your favorite quote or saying? Currently, I really like “It is what it is.”

I really never think about volunteering, per se, as I just go there to try to make it a happy place. What do you like to do when you’re at the Gardens? I like to dead head all the plants in the butterfly garden that need it. I’m a dead header -my biggest job, which no one else likes to do. I also LOVE to buy plants and figure out where to put them, and designing new beds for the plants. Who was the most instrumental person who influenced your love of gardening? I was so excited about becoming a Master Gardener, which I found out thru the Rio Lindo garden club, via Kathy Schoen who invited me to apply to the Master Gardener program, and I was hooked. And I was in my happy place – a place of


2021 Annual Meeting & Board Elections

Betty loves sketching in her favorite spot in the Cactus Garden. She said, It is so quiet and peaceful here and cool in the shade.

The 2021 Election Volunteer Team

Keeping the Orchid Room safe from the cold weather snap. Looks a bit spooky.

Michaelann member of the St Lucie Art League visiting with other members for a day of painting at the gardens.


Bragging Rights, Brenda Gustafson, with daughter Karen and grandkids Mason and Parker

Wacky Weeders Volunteers in Action!

Katy and Maggie enjoying lunch in the Garden. This spot is becoming a favorite. It was Maggie’s first time and she said, “This garden is like a piece of heaven”.

What better place to have lunch on a beautiful sunny day then at a picnic bench in the gardens.

Merv and Gene building tables for Garden Center displays.

Big Thank You to for the generous donation of a truck full of bromeliads. Continued on Pg18


Beautiful plant combinations designed in our Garden Center.

Our Gardens roundabout with the amazing 2020 Holidays Lights

Our Pavilion entry way decked for the Holidays

Our Pavilion entry way decked for the Holidays

The beautiful new sign for The Garden’s Gate Gift Shop. Stop by to see all of the deals and specials they offer.



As A NEWbie MG - by Laura Mehr WEEK 2


We began our class with a look at the soil composition of FL – Dr. Christine Kelly, Extension Director for soil from Indian River County, and broadcasting to us from Gainesville, gave us a thorough look at the different types of soils here in Fl., and as expected most soil profiles in FL are SANDY – and in need of fortification in order to grow almost anything.

Class started quickly with Dr Ken and his wife, Lynn, lecturing about plant pathology. Some interesting highlights included finding out that 75% of all plant diseases are fungal in nature. Virus’ and Bacteria make up the other 25%, which are somewhat more difficult to identify as they usually require a microscope to identify. Also Dr. Ken did describe this really cool test, where a suspected bacterial diseased plant stem is sliced open lengthwise, and a line of disease can be seen inside the stem. The stem is then sliced horizontally, and placed in water and in a matter of seconds, the bacteria can be seen flowing out of the stem, almost like a ghost in the water.

Another great lecture that made me appreciate our leader Kate R’s identification as a ‘soil nerd’. So many soil variables in our relatively young (only 20 years) peninsula. A short break for the bathroom and a short walk and a bored cat, and we are back at it -We learned the importance of testing for PH and that most plants grow best in a PH of 5.5-6.5 – and learned that the soil west of I95 is considerably more acidic than the soil east of I95. And that PH is really the driver of the soil bus, and therefore the basis of all our plants health. And of course all about right plant/right place. Time for lunch, a walk, and back to work –

The afternoon brings plant ID reports from 5 of us – me being one of them, and my stage fight kicked in as I presented what I had discovered about the pink Allamanda vine. I stumbled through it none the worse for wear I think. Hearing about the different characteristics of each plant made me want to plant every one of them – but alas, my personal jungle is quickly running out of space, light and food. Thereafter we learned more about advice to give to our local homeowner that need help with their soil problems.

Another week as MG newbie’s under our sandy soil belts.

With many different causes of plant problems, it would seem that much practice at identification would be needed. Damage to plants can of course also be caused by other things, such as too little water, too much water, and too little or too much sun. After a break , we re convened with Dr. ken, and had a short quiz. Dr Ken showed a picture of damage to a tomato crop, and we asked him questions about how it may have come about, as if we were already real MG, and questioning a client. It was like Sherlock investigating a locked room mystery! Eventually thru the Q&A it was revealed that the damage had been caused by lightning! A truly amazing end to the mystery. After lunch, one member of our merry band came back and said she was sure that by looking that all the plants in her yard were diseased! A little knowledge can make the mind see a lot of things. We will find out next week if that was true or not. Another presentation from the 5 groups of plants by 5 students, and a delightful lecture by Kate R about the benefits of FFL-Florida friendly landscaping, and we had week 3 under our belts. See you next month. Laura.



Continued on Pg22

We are currently booking Wedding Ceremonies and Events for 75 guests and under inside our Pavilion and up to 150 in our outside venues. These dates are being booked fast. Email Heather at NOW to reserve your date! As we are in changing times, we will be evolving along with them due to the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 Protocol recommendations are in place and required for ALL events. A floor plan with social distancing and signed COVID-19 Addendum is required to book your event. Thank You.



Continued on Pg24



We are pleased to announce a new, special membership opportunity for our Friends and supporters—a Ten-Year Anniversary Membership. 2020 marks the 10th anniversary of the Port St Lucie Botanical Gardens. Due to COVID-19, we were unable to move forward with our special celebrations and events that were planned for the year, so instead we are celebrating a decade of success. Ten years ago we started with a Founding Membership of 100. What better way to continue than with a Ten-Year Anniversary Membership. And, the best part is that the funds will help ensure continued improvements and longevity of the Botanical Gardens, with 50% of the funds raised allocated to Special Projects and 50%allocated to the Endowment Fund. This “Ten-Year Anniversary Membership” offer is open to new and current members and includes: • •

A “Ten-Year Anniversary Membership” $250.00 per person. Will go to the first 100 Special Memberships

• • • •

sold and will expire on March 31, 2021 or when all 100 have been sold, whichever comes first. This offer will include a Special Membership Dedication Plaque with the names of all 100 Ten -Year Anniversary Memberships that will be displayed next to the founding members plaque in the lobby of the Botanical Gardens. You will also receive a Special Ten-Year Anniversary Membership card. 10% off Gift Shop and Garden Center purchases, unless marked otherwise. Reciprocal Admission and/or Discounts to American Horticultural Society (AHS) Member Gardens Members Only Events, Workshops & Seminars Free or discounted. We are offering two (2) payment options. A one time payment option of $250, or you can select our subscription plan and pay $50 monthly for 5 months.

Get Yours Today by CLICKING HERE

In all cases, donations are deductible to the extent allowed by law. Friends is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

Continued on Pg26


2021 Botanica Garden Festival Plant Sale


Continued on Pg28


Sun Grove Montessori Middle School Students With their teachers, Master Gardner Terri Zulmeida and Andy Paramele, Sun Grove Montessori Middle School students spent an active day at the Port St Lucie Botanical Gardens. Their day began with a weeding session in the renovated Native Garden then taking part in a learning workshop on local Florida birds finishing the day by setting up their booth for Botanica! Together with Aviary expert, Michelle Goebel, and newly retired teacher and Friends of Port St Lucie Botanical Gardens volunteer Mary Pat Harper, students were guided through patterns of bird migration, preferred environments, feeding behaviors and nest building. Beginning in March Sun Grove Montessori Middle School students and their teachers will take over care and maintenance care of the Native Garden. This amazing group propagates Florida Native plants on their school grounds!


Can you give us as little as 3 hours per week of your time? The Friends of the Port St Lucie Botanical Gardens are looking for Volunteers to assist in various positions throughout the Garden. Become a part of a very active garden, meet fellow volunteers, have fun, and enjoy being part of a team.

Gift Shop

Thursday-Saturday - 3 hours • 10am-1pm or 1pm-4pm* Sunday - 4 hours • 12pm-4pm

Garden Center

Thursday-Saturday - 3 hours • 10am-1pm or 1pm-4pm* Sunday - 4 hours • 12pm-4pm Garden Rooms—Daylily Garden, Bromeliad Garden, Secret Garden—Name your hours. We need help with weeding, trimming, and maintaining the gardens. *We are particularly short of volunteers on afternoon shifts 1-4pm for both the Gift Shop & Garden Center.

Contact our Volunteer Coordinator - Joanne Hurd at or call The Gardens at 772-337-1959 and leave a message. CDC guidelines will be followed. Facial coverings will be required when social distancing is difficult to maintain.


Plants in Florida that can Poison You, your Child or your pet Castor beans

Rosary seeds and peas

Don't swallow or chew on the beans. They can induce drowsiness, abdominal pain, bloody vomit, diarrhea, and death from kidney or liver damage

Don't swallow or chew on the beans. They can induce drowsiness, abdominal pain, bloody vomit, diarrhea, and death from kidney or liver damage

Pencil cactus


Other common names include milk bush, Indian tree spurge, pencil bush and pencil tree. Its white milky sap is extremely toxic and irritating to the skin and is used as a fish poison in India.

Also called dumb cane, it's not so smart to ingest his plant. Use caution if you have small children or curious pets, as its sap has toxic qualities that can cause tongue and throat swelling when ingested.


Poison ivy

Coontie is low growing, which produces orange/red seeds that small children could also reach. This group also includes the sago (King and Queen) and cardboard palms.

Touching the leaves or oil from the plant can cause an itchy rash with blisters. Inhaling smoke from burning plants or plants in bloom may cause wheezing or breathing difficulty.


Brazilian pepper

Also called dumb cane, it's not so smart to ingest this plant. They are grown as houseplants and shouldn’t be where young children could bite or chew on the trunk. This goes for your dog, too!

As with poison ivy, touching the leaves or oil from Brazilian pepper trees can cause an itchy rash with blisters. Inhaling smoke from burning plants or plants in bloom may cause wheezing or breathing difficulty, Its seeds are toxic to birds.


Visit Our Gift Shop for a selection of fine gifts & more, one of a kind items & works from local Artists.